Cowboys paid $2.4 million to settle cheerleaders’ voyeurism allegations in opposition to senior crew govt

THE DALLAS COWBOYS paid a confidential settlement of $2.4 million after 4 members of their iconic cheerleading squad accused a senior crew govt of voyeurism of their locker room as they undressed throughout a 2015 occasion at AT&T Stadium, in accordance with paperwork obtained by ESPN and folks with information of the scenario.

Every of the ladies acquired $399,523.27 after the incident. One of many cheerleaders alleged that she clearly noticed Richard Dalrymple, the Cowboys' longtime senior vp for public relations and communications, standing behind a partial wall of their locker room together with his iPhone prolonged towards them whereas they have been altering their garments, in accordance with a number of folks with information of the occasions and letters later despatched by attorneys for the cheerleaders to the crew. Dalrymple gained entry to the again door of the cheerleaders' locked dressing room by utilizing a safety key card.

Dalrymple additionally was accused by a lifelong Cowboys fan of taking “upskirt” images of Charlotte Jones Anderson, a crew senior vp and the daughter of crew proprietor Jerry Jones, within the Cowboys' struggle room in the course of the 2015 NFL draft, in accordance with paperwork obtained by ESPN and interviews. The fan signed an affidavit that he was watching a livestream of the struggle room on the crew's web site when he mentioned he noticed the alleged incident.

Dalrymple, who didn't reply to interview requests by ESPN, informed crew officers he entered the cheerleaders' locker room not figuring out the ladies have been there and left straight away, a crew supply mentioned. His account was contradicted by the way in which a number of sources described the alleged incident to ESPN. On Monday night time, Dalrymple issued a press release calling each allegations false.

“Individuals who know me, co-workers, the media and colleagues, know who I'm and what I am about,” Dalrymple mentioned in his assertion. “I perceive the very critical nature of those claims and don't take them flippantly. The accusations are, nevertheless, false. One was unintentional and the opposite merely didn't occur. Every little thing that was alleged was completely investigated years in the past, and I cooperated totally.”

A Cowboys consultant mentioned the crew completely investigated each alleged incidents and located no wrongdoing by Dalrymple and no proof that he took images or video of the ladies. The crew doesn't dispute that Dalrymple used his safety key card entry to enter the cheerleaders' locker room whereas the ladies have been altering garments.

“The group took these allegations extraordinarily critically and moved instantly to completely examine this matter,” mentioned Jim Wilkinson, a communications advisor for the crew. “The investigation was dealt with in line with greatest authorized and HR practices and the investigation discovered no proof of wrongdoing.”

Even so, the crew issued Dalrymple a proper written warning in October 2015, an individual accustomed to the matter informed ESPN. A crew supply declined to offer a replica of the warning or describe what it contained, citing privateness issues. The crew additionally declined to element info, together with time-stamped knowledge from surveillance cameras and safety key playing cards, that might present exactly when Dalrymple entered and left the dressing room.

“If any wrongdoing had been discovered, Wealthy would have been terminated instantly,” Wilkinson mentioned. “Everybody concerned felt simply horrible about this unlucky incident.”

Dalrymple continued working for the Cowboys, in his similar function, for almost six years after the settlement. On Feb. 2, he informed The Dallas Morning Information of his fast retirement after 32 years as Jerry Jones' chief spokesman and confidant. Whereas Dalrymple thanked the crew and the Jones household, nobody on behalf of the crew acknowledged his years of service, and his retirement was not talked about on the crew's website. His retirement got here a number of weeks after ESPN started interviewing folks in regards to the alleged incidents and simply days after ESPN contacted attorneys concerned within the settlement. In his assertion, Dalrymple mentioned the allegations “had nothing to do with my retirement from an extended and fulfilling profession, and I used to be solely contacted about this story after I had retired.”

A signed copy of the Might 2016 settlement settlement obtained by ESPN features a nondisclosure settlement wherein the 4 ladies, three of their spouses and Cowboys officers agreed to by no means converse publicly about their allegations.

ESPN is aware of the id of the 4 cheerleaders however doesn't sometimes reveal the names of people that have reported allegations of sexual misconduct. The ladies both declined to remark for this story or didn't reply to inquiries.

A former cheerleader accustomed to the dressing-room incident mentioned it grew to become identified amongst a couple of fellow cheerleaders.

“It damage my coronary heart as a result of I understand how a lot it affected the individuals who have been concerned,” the previous cheerleader mentioned. “It was a really … shut the ebook, do not discuss it, this particular person goes to remain in his place … They simply made it go away.”

DALRYMPLE HAD A lengthy private historical past with the Cowboys and Jerry Jones and was seen by the proprietor as a member of the prolonged Jones household. In Dallas, he was the media gatekeeper and the crew's high-profile fixer, usually answerable for clarifying the homeowners' public statements. He was as soon as ordered by receiver Dez Bryant in a crowded locker room to “repair this s—, Wealthy!” after Bryant acquired indignant with a reporter. In 2015 and 2016, a crew supply mentioned, Dalrymple lobbied soccer writers to elect Jerry Jones to the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame.

On Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, the Cowboys held their annual Kickoff Luncheon at AT&T Stadium, the official begin of the common season that helps elevate cash for charity. Round banquet tables crowded the sphere almost from finish zone to finish zone. Virtually 2,000 folks attended, together with the Jones household, Cowboys luminaries together with Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, and, as standard for particular occasions, 4 Cowboys cheerleaders, clad of their unmistakable blue and white uniforms.

After waving their pompoms beside a lectern the place a number of folks delivered speeches, the cheerleaders returned to their locker room shortly after midday to rapidly change their garments earlier than attending the luncheon.

At the very least two safety guards normally stand exterior the cheerleaders' dressing room when they're inside, sources informed ESPN. However on at the present time, just one safety guard was current. Contained in the again door that was left unguarded was a small nook separated from the dressing room by a partial wall. The sources mentioned the one option to unlock the door is with a safety key card that Dalrymple, amongst different workers, possessed.

The ladies heard the door resulting in the nook space open, sources mentioned. “We're in right here!” the ladies shouted. They assumed it was a safety guard who instantly left, in accordance with an account from a number of sources and relayed in a letter from the cheerleaders' attorneys to the crew.

A number of minutes later, one of many cheerleaders observed a person's hand and a black cellphone pointed of their path, in accordance with a number of sources. On the time, the ladies have been going “from totally clothed to utterly unclothed,” a cheerleader later informed a Cowboys HR official and the crew's common counsel, Jason Cohen. The cheerleader who noticed the cellphone was sure the person was lurking and taking images or video of them, in accordance with a number of sources.

That girl ran towards him, shouting, “Hey, what are you doing?” The cheerleader, a veteran of a number of years on the crew, instantly acknowledged Dalrymple, who she mentioned dashed away, in accordance with the letter. The opposite ladies didn't see the person, in accordance with the letter.

The cheerleaders instantly reported what had occurred to a safety guard. Three folks mentioned the safety guard wished to report the incident to the Arlington police division. If the cheerleaders' allegations have been substantiated, below Texas legislation it might be a misdemeanor to secretly observe somebody with out their consent and a felony to take a photograph or video of “an intimate space of one other particular person” with out their consent.

The sources mentioned the cheerleaders wished to have it “correctly investigated,” however the police weren't known as. The chaos delayed the 4 cheerleaders' arrival to the luncheon by almost half-hour. After they arrived, Kelli Finglass, the cheerleaders' director, was sitting at a spherical desk with different folks, together with a number of crew sponsors, unaware of what had simply transpired. “What took so lengthy?” she requested the ladies, the previous cheerleader mentioned. The cheerleaders could not reply the query in truth in that setting and as an alternative merely mentioned that they had been delayed, sources mentioned.

After the luncheon, the cheerleaders huddled with Finglass, who steered that the ladies ought to report the incident to the Cowboys' HR division, a supply mentioned. The supply added that every one 4 cheerleaders wished Dalrymple punished.

Wilkinson mentioned the Cowboys' investigation began later that day. Here is how he laid it out: Human sources officers took statements by cellphone from the cheerleaders, the safety guard and two different workers who might need been witnesses. Cohen, the overall counsel, confiscated Dalrymple's work-issued iPhone and obtained passwords for his cellphone and iCloud account. Cohen additionally performed the primary of a number of interviews with Dalrymple, who acknowledged utilizing his safety key card to enter what he thought was an empty locker room. He additionally denied utilizing his cellphone to gather photos of the ladies, Wilkinson mentioned. Through the safety guard's interview, he didn't inform crew officers that he had wished to name police. The safety guard didn't reply to a number of interview requests from ESPN. Within the days that adopted, Cohen despatched Dalrymple a letter ordering him to protect any proof associated to the allegation, Wilkinson mentioned.

It took eight days after the incident for crew officers to fulfill with the ladies in particular person. The cheerleaders met individually with the chief of HR and Cohen in a convention room at Valley Ranch, then the crew's headquarters, a supply mentioned. The supply insisted that these conferences have been the primary time crew officers interviewed the ladies and that any discussions on Sept. 2 have been “perfunctory.” At these Valley Ranch conferences, crew officers informed every of the ladies that that they had interviewed Dalrymple, who insisted that he had entered their locked dressing room solely to make use of the lavatory and didn't anticipate finding them there.

A supply mentioned the ladies have been incredulous for 2 causes: One cheerleader mentioned she clearly noticed Dalrymple with the cellphone protruding from past a wall pointed at them. And the cheerleaders famous that there was a toilet throughout the corridor from their dressing room. In notes from one of many HR conferences obtained by ESPN, Cohen informed a cheerleader that the crew had searched Dalrymple's iPhone and employed a forensics agency to make sure no photos had been deleted. A cheerleader requested Cohen whether or not the crew appeared into any private telephones Dalrymple might need had. Cohen responded that Dalrymple insisted he had solely the cellphone he turned over to the crew; a crew supply mentioned Dalrymple informed the crew he didn't personal a private cellphone.

“This to me is a grievous offense,” the girl mentioned, in accordance with the notes.

Cohen informed the cheerleader that “[Dalrymple] understands he was this near being fired and nonetheless will likely be fired if something even remotely like this involves gentle,” in accordance with the notes, and that Dalrymple didn't deny being within the locker room. “At no level did he deny something up till the video half,” Cohen mentioned, in accordance with the notes.

“May he have lied to me? After all,” Cohen informed the cheerleader, in accordance with the notes. “However I mentioned to him level clean, ‘Is that this the cellphone you had yesterday and he mentioned ‘sure.'”

The HR chief, the notes mentioned, informed the girl the crew “examined the cellphone completely. … There was no proof of any movies, there was no proof of something that was despatched out, no proof of images.”

Crew officers repeatedly assured that they have been taking the allegation critically, in accordance with the notes. “It is a large deal,” the HR chief mentioned, and later, “We care about you guys. We do not need you feeling awkward at work.”

HR additionally provided the girl sources, together with “skilled sources,” in accordance with the notes. And Cohen provided to attach the cheerleader with a buddy who's an legal professional, the notes mentioned.

Two sources mentioned the cheerleaders and their attorneys weren't informed whether or not photos from safety cameras, deployed throughout AT&T Stadium, had been consulted or might need recorded any of the incident. One mentioned the ladies have been indignant as a result of they felt that crew officers appeared to have concluded Dalrymple had carried out nothing unsuitable earlier than the cheerleaders have been formally interviewed eight days after the incident. “It was a ‘he mentioned, she mentioned' — and the crew selected to consider Dalrymple's aspect of issues,” a supply with information of the allegations mentioned about how the cheerleaders' felt. “However 4 ladies swore this occurred.”

The cheerleaders have been instructed by their bosses to not go public and to not inform their teammates what had occurred, a number of sources mentioned.

Annoyed and indignant, the ladies employed W. Kelly Puls, a Fort Price legal professional, later that month to signify them in a doable lawsuit in opposition to the Cowboys, in accordance with sources. The cheerleaders “have been upset and felt sure the crew wasn't going to do something about it,” a supply added. “They have been informed to only maintain cheering — and noticed Dalrymple usually at video games and occasions.”

Puls despatched licensed letters to prime Cowboys executives, together with Jerry Jones, demanding that “all proof be preserved,” together with all knowledge on Dalrymple's cellphones, photos from safety cameras and data from Dalrymple's safety key card that might present all of the instances he had gained entry to the cheerleaders' locked dressing room, a supply mentioned.

On the similar time, the cheerleaders and their attorneys additionally started trying to find different proof of any alleged misconduct by Dalrymple. One in every of them found a curious publish on a Fb web page by a Shreveport, Louisiana, schoolteacher and lifelong Cowboys fan named Randy Horton. He posted on a TV station's web page that he'd seen one thing unusual whereas watching a dwell video feed from the Cowboys' draft “struggle room” on April 30, 2015, as crew officers celebrated their first-round collection of Byron Jones, the College of Connecticut cornerback.

Horton additionally wrote to Charlotte Jones straight on Fb: “In case you have not been made conscious already, that man Wealthy Dalrymple, who was sitting within the again nook of the struggle room final night time, on a number of events reached over and took upskirt photos together with his cellphone in the course of the LIVE STREAM!! My spouse and I watched in amazement. It occurred if you guys stood up celebrating if you realized that you'd be capable to choose the Jones child. I consider Carolina was on the clock on the time. Go test it out!”

A crew supply mentioned Charlotte Jones didn't see Horton's publish. “Charlotte is clearly not sitting round studying Fb,” the supply mentioned.

Horton informed ESPN that he noticed Dalrymple maintain his cellphone below Charlotte Jones' skirt and a number of other instances seem to snap images.

“I will always remember what I noticed,” Horton mentioned. “The primary time he reached out from a sitting place behind her, and he or she is standing together with her again to him, and did it as soon as … He appeared on the display screen, touched the display screen after which did it once more. The second time, he is sitting in a chair on the nook of the desk on the left and he held his cellphone beneath the nook of the desk with the digital camera aspect dealing with up the place she was standing. And did it once more.

“I've little doubt in my thoughts of what it was he was doing. It was apparent.”

Horton mentioned he tried and did not seize the photographs on his laptop computer. He then posted a message about what he'd seen to the Fb web page for native TV station KSLA as “one thing certainly one of your reporters may need to look into.”

One particular person replied to the Fb publish to the TV station, saying he'd additionally seen what Horton noticed.

The cheerleaders' authorized crew discovered Horton's publish and obtained a digital copy of the livestream. ESPN was not in a position to receive a recording of the struggle room video. A crew supply declined to say whether or not they have it.

The Cowboys had been alerted to the “upskirt” allegation in Might 2015 — a couple of weeks after it occurred and 4 months earlier than the cheerleaders' locker room allegation. A crew supply mentioned a tipster informed HR officers of the “upskirt allegation.” The supply mentioned HR watched the video and located no wrongdoing by Dalrymple.

“Essentially the most fundamental widespread sense tells you that if Jerry Jones believed in any manner that somebody had even remotely carried out one thing like that to any member of his household, that particular person would have been fired instantly,” Wilkinson mentioned.

Though the Cowboys had closed the books on the struggle room allegation, the cheerleaders' attorneys raised it in a Sept. 30, 2015, letter to Cowboys attorneys that was obtained by ESPN. The letter mentioned attorneys deliberate to current proof that the alleged struggle room incident confirmed Dalrymple's “vulgar propensities” that ought to have resulted in him shedding entry to the dressing room. Of their letter, the attorneys questioned why Dalrymple used the cheerleaders' lavatory when “a males's restroom was 20 ft away.”

Whereas the cheerleaders' attorneys have been pursuing their investigation, Dalrymple employed a Dallas legal professional, George Parker.

“I strongly suggested him on the time that if he have been fired for this incident, given the shortage of proof and no particular discovering of wrongdoing, he would have grounds for a wrongful termination declare,” Parker informed ESPN through a press release issued by Wilkinson. Parker didn't reply to ESPN's request for an interview.

The Cowboys issued the disciplinary letter to Dalrymple on Oct. 19, 2015, not lengthy after he employed Parker. And the crew revoked Dalrymple's entry to the cheerleaders' locker room, sources mentioned.

The Cowboys additionally made sweeping safety modifications across the cheerleaders' locker room, Wilkinson mentioned. They reconfigured safety key card entry to locker rooms for all workers and added cameras, new indicators and new communications to alert safety workers when locker rooms have been in use. The supply mentioned in addition they ensured that cheerleaders have been conscious of HR and authorized sources, worker help applications and an nameless NFL hotline.

Within the weeks after the incident, the 4 cheerleaders have been offered with a troublesome selection by their attorneys: Go public with what had occurred at a information convention or settle quietly with the crew and by no means converse in regards to the incident. “Wasn't a lot of a selection,” the previous cheerleader mentioned. “Neither choice was good.”

FOR MONTHS, THERE was an deadlock between the 2 authorized groups whereas the 4 ladies continued cheering at video games and different occasions.

Within the spring, Horton was shocked to be contacted by an legal professional for the cheerleaders who met with him in a Shreveport on line casino. On April 18, 2016, Horton swore to a three-page affidavit in regards to the “upskirt” video. The cheerleaders' lawyer returned to Dallas with the affidavit, which he described to the Cowboys' authorized crew, sources mentioned.

Inside weeks, a settlement/nondisclosure settlement was drawn up that certain the ladies and the crew executives to secrecy. On Might 16, 2016, the settlement was signed by the 4 cheerleaders and their spouses and attorneys. The Jones household — Jerry Jones, sons Stephen and Jerry Jr. and Charlotte Jones Anderson — and Dalrymple signed quickly after, denying any wrongdoing and that the alleged voyeurism even came about.

“As an alternative, this Settlement is to be construed solely as a mirrored image of the Events' want to facilitate a decision of a bona fide disputed declare and all different potential claims between the Events by way of the date this Settlement is executed,” the settlement states.

The settlement particularly bars the cheerleaders from disclosing any “side of the incident relating to Charlotte Jones Anderson,” referring to the struggle room incident recounted by Horton.

A crew supply denied that Horton's affidavit spurred the $2.4 million settlement.

ESPN confirmed that the crew initially paid the cheerleaders, spouses and their attorneys a complete of $1.8 million in June 2016. Every of the cheerleaders was paid $249,523.37, with three legislation corporations getting the remaining — a complete of $801,906 in charges and bills. One other $600,000 was paid by the Cowboys over the course of the subsequent yr, with three cheerleaders getting $12,500 a month for a yr and the fourth being paid $150,000 after her closing season.

One of many solely exceptions for the cheerleaders to stay silent is that if they have been compelled “to answer subpoena by federal, state or native regulatory authorities or governmental businesses.” The settlement additionally offers strict directions on how the cheerleaders and their spouses ought to reply if requested about their voyeurism allegations: They “might solely reply with ‘No Remark.'”

ESPN tried to contact greater than 100 former cheerleaders and different former crew workers and most who did reply to inquiries declined to remark. Dozens didn't reply to cellphone, electronic mail and textual content messages.

There was a provision within the settlement settlement for one of many cheerleaders to cheer that fall, and for one more to work elsewhere within the group, in accordance with the settlement. Two of the cheerleaders have been eligible to remain on the crew for the 2016-17 season however selected to not.

Director of cheerleaders Kelli Finglass didn't reply questions from ESPN. In a press release launched by Wilkinson, Finglass mentioned, “This 2015 incident was taken critically and instantly reported to HR and authorized, who launched a full and fast investigation. The group additional strengthened the safety protocols for the DCC.”

Wilkinson mentioned, “The cheerleaders are an important a part of the Dallas Cowboys household, and by way of the settlement, the group wished to go above and past to make sure the cheerleaders knew that their allegations had been taken extraordinarily critically, and instantly and completely investigated.”

Like different skilled sports activities groups and American companies, the Cowboys have a tradition of usually asking workers to signal nondisclosure agreements when putting settlements with former workers — and even present ones — who allege office misconduct or wrongdoing. And as a matter of routine when leaving the crew, many former Cowboys workers have signed NDAs, together with the a whole bunch of ladies who've labored for them as cheerleaders. Requested whether or not the Cowboys would launch the 4 cheerleaders and their spouses from the NDA they signed, a crew supply declined to remark. As well as, a crew supply declined to say whether or not Dalrymple requested the crew's permission to interrupt his NDA linked to the settlement settlement.

Six years later, the reminiscence of the incident has not been forgotten by the ladies impacted by what they are saying was a violation of their privateness by an influential crew govt, a supply mentioned: “They're nonetheless extraordinarily upset. They noticed it as a violation of their privateness that went unpunished.”

The settlement remained confidential till 5 months in the past, when ESPN acquired a tip from a former Cowboys govt in regards to the allegations involving Dalrymple. Wilkinson known as a reporter in November, providing to reply questions after ESPN started calling dozens of individuals across the crew.

ESPN sought interviews with Jerry Jones, together with Stephen, Jerry Jr. and Charlotte, in addition to Cohen. By means of Wilkinson, they declined to remark. Two attorneys for the cheerleaders who have been listed on settlement paperwork, Carlos R. Cortez of Dallas and W. Kelly Puls additionally declined remark for this story.

THE COWBOYS' ICONIC crew of 36 cheerleaders are as a lot an emblem of America's Crew as its starred helmets. Greater than 850 cheerleaders have worn the uniform. They've appeared in a pair of made-for-TV films and a documentary, they usually're all the time on the sidelines at Cowboys video games and through crew occasions at AT&T Stadium and in the neighborhood. They've their very own widespread actuality TV present, “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Crew,” now in its sixteenth season on CMT.

Revelations in regards to the Cowboys come at a dangerous time for the Nationwide Soccer League, on the heels of questions on office sexual harassment that emerged in the course of the league's inquiry of the Washington Commanders.

In October, the leak of a handful of misogynistic, racist and anti-gay emails despatched by former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden to former Commanders president Bruce Allen acquired the eye of a number of members of Congress, who've demanded the NFL launch all 650,000 emails gathered in the course of the NFL inquiry into alleged wrongdoing by crew leaders. Extra not too long ago, The Washington Submit reported that longtime crew proprietor Dan Snyder had tried to thwart the investigation. Questions in regards to the transparency of the inquiry into the Commanders — and the NFL's responses to Congress — have bedeviled commissioner Roger Goodell and different league and crew executives all season.

Notably, critics have questioned why the league didn't launch a report by the surface lawyer employed to analyze the Commanders. Paperwork launched this month by the U.S. Home Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the Commanders and the NFL's dealing with of the inquiry, confirmed that the league might not be capable to publicly launch the findings of its investigation with out Snyder's specific permission. A second doc confirmed the Commanders requested a “written investigation” from the legislation agency the crew employed to conduct the probe. Goodell had beforehand mentioned the league could not launch the inner investigation as a result of the legislation agency offered its findings orally.

Jerry Jones, the league's most influential proprietor, was requested in November whether or not Snyder had change into “a legal responsibility” for the NFL, and he responded merely, “No.” He insisted that he welcomes efforts by the committee, which has began to collect info by requesting paperwork and interviewing former Commanders workers about their allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. “Definitely in each manner does the NFL need to cooperate with something Congress asks of it there,” Jones mentioned in November.

Whereas saying he was glad with the NFL's inquiry, Jones additionally mentioned he would welcome comparable scrutiny of the Cowboys' entrance workplace and its practices. “As a matter of truth, on a private foundation, the extra clear, the extra you are behind the scenes, the extra you are concerned, to me, the extra you benefit from the sport,” Jones mentioned. “I feel once we ask the nation to be as serious about professional soccer as you might be, then it is best to anticipate these sorts of questions. And positively, social points are an enormous a part of our lives immediately.”

Don Van Natta Jr. is a senior author for ESPN. Attain him at [email protected]. On Twitter, his deal with is @DVNJr. ESPN's Terrika Foster-Brasby, Maya A. Jones, Greg Amante and John Mastroberardino contributed to this report.

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